The Art of Influence, Part II

Platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram have given rise to a new breed of influencers that look like you or me. The birth of social media caused a seismic shift that put supreme focus on the individual and changed the balance of power in marketing from brands to customers. Homegrown bloggers, vloggers and other social media stars, have amassed huge followings that are attracted to their credibility rather than their celebrity. Today’s consumer does their research, so the art of the influencer is to capture their attention as their best resource.

Last month we looked at what influencer marketing is and why it’s important for small businesses to incorporate it into their marketing mix. This month, we look at how.

The Art of Influence, Part II

Engage For Endorsement

Online tools can help you find influencers who are SMEs in your particular niche. Tools like Klout,  Traackr, and Linkdex help you discover, manage and engage influencers (9 Tools to Discover Influencers in Your Industry).

Your own participation within your industry is also an obvious daily action that can lead to great sources of insight from blogs and social networks. So can brainstorming with your sales, marketing, and PR staff. Once you’ve targeted your desired influencers, start engaging with them.

  • Comment on their blog.
  • Propose a guest blog post.
  • Send a short email, giving them a reason to share your post.
  • Tweet them to start a public conversation.

By tapping into the influencer’s network and winning them over, you can boost your followers and  influence considerably.

Promote Public Usage

While an organic approach with practical influencers often has more impact than paid endorsements, it doesn’t negate the power of celebrities as influencers. Beats By Dre has been changing the way companies tap into influencer marketing. By providing their product as a free gift to an exclusive crowd (in this case, the world’s best athletes) right before the London Olympic Games, Beat By Dre got free international advertising when their headphones suddenly started showing up in pictures posted in magazines, newsreels and social media. For the price of a few free headsets, their savvy investment paid off in millions of dollars’ worth of free media coverage. The lesson: get influencers to publically use your product. Even if they don’t endorse it, their audience will notice and will follow them.   

Beats By Dre has been changing the way companies tap into influencer marketing. By providing their product as a free gift to an exclusive crowd (in this case, the world’s best athletes) right before the London Olympic Games, Beats By Dre got free international advertising when their headphones suddenly started showing up in pictures posted in magazines, newsreels and social media. For the price of a few free headsets, their savvy investment paid off in millions of dollars’ worth of free media coverage. The lesson: get influencers to publically use your product. Even if they don’t endorse it, their audience will notice and will follow them.   

Although the importance of providing value can never be overstated, the evangelical endorsement of an influencer, famous or not, can have enormous impact on whether or not a consumer tries and re-buys. An influencer fosters a feeling of community or belonging that then holds the attention of already existing clients. The more influencers know and value your brand, the better you’ll retain your top clients. And they have an advantage over traditional paid advertising because when they create content (via a blog, video, etc.) people can react to in a very public way, often commenting or sharing it online.

That’s free advertising with a long tail. It doesn’t come much better than that.

Image: Photospin

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